UPDATE – These are some more of the names now confirmed for the MTFC team for the Ernie Moss Charity match – Dave McNicholas, Ryan Davis, Jamie Walker, Chris James, Craig Hopkins, Kevin Tye, Kevin Noteman.

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“He’s always been my hero, I want to do him proud.”

These are the heartfelt words of Nikki Trueman, as she talks about her Dad, former Chesterfield favourite Ernie Moss who later managed Matlock Town and Belper Town.

Now both clubs are joining forces as former players of both the Gladiators and the Nailers take to the field at the Autoworld Arena on Sunday March 22 to raise funds for Team Ernie, which supports Dementia UK, and the Jeff Astle Foundation. Sadly 65 years old Ernie is now suffering from the early symptoms of dementia.

The condition also affected former West Bromwich Albion and England striker Jeff Astle who died in 2002.

Having spoken with Astle’s daughter, Nikki believes that heading the ball has been a major contributory factor in her father’s condition. Moss, like Astle, was influential in the air.

“You’d be surprised how many players have it, the list goes on and on. The trouble is that the disease can’t be confirmed until the patient is dead, it’s called Boxers Brain although that cannot be diagnosed officially. The balls were heavier years ago but even with the balls used nowadays, heading it can cause head trauma.”

Moss was articulately spoken when he was in charge of the Gladiators who he led to the runners up spot in the NPL First Division in 2003/2004 and winning the Derbyshire Senior Cup in the same season before later taking over at Christ Church Meadow.

The difference now, Nikki says is “staggering”.

“Now he can’t speak fluently at all, his language skills have really deteriorated. He’ll still watch games but now everything is either superb or bloody rubbish or a phrase to that effect.”

A plethora of former Matlock and Belper favourites are lined up to be on view for the game which starts at 2pm, but with the ground open from noon, other fund raising events are happening.

Steve Taylor, Rockie White, Kris Bowler, Paul Riley, Simon Barraclough, James Lukic, Richard Taylor, Nick Tilly, Steve Circuit, Phil Brown, Gareth Williams, Andy Richmond, Steve Warne,Ian Clark, plus part of the current management team in Mark Hume and Scott Maxfield are amongst the Matlock contingent.

Representing Belper are Andy Carney, Dan White, Luke Federenko, Mark Strezewski, Asa Ingle, Andy Rushbury, Mark Barnard, Mark Ward, Glyn Cotton, Eric Graves, Kelvin Mushambi, Matt Varley and Jon Froggatt amongst others.

“I’m not sure how much we’ll raise but to be honest it’s the first thing I’ve ever organized” Nikki added. “But I’ll also be in the Chesterfield Marathon and arranging events such as dinners to boost the funds.”

“The money raised will also help Ashgate Hospice and the Jeff Astle Foundation so a care facility can be established for footballers with this condition. It affects footballers and sports people at all levels, professional, semi professional and even down to grass roots level. Their families need support and we need to raise awareness of the disease. We’ll also be campaigning the FA and the PFA to carry out an in depth study of the extent of dementia in football.”

Entry to the game costs three pounds for adults and a pound for children.

Ian Richardson

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